Check out our latest Team of the Week and then let us know your top XI using the story comment facility at the bottom of the article.
TEAMtalk’s Top Men (4-3-2-1): Fabianski; Trippier, Fernandez, Shackell, Van Aanholt; Cattermole, N’Zonzi, Cleverley; Silva, Mahrez; Aguero.
After Costel Pantilimon and David De Gea’s heroics in securing victories for their respective sides, only a special goalkeeping performance would dislodge the both of them from this week’s best Premier League XI. Fortunately for Swansea, they benefited from such a performance.
Lukasz Fabianski may have insisted there was no personal motivation in his man-of-the-match showing against former club Arsenal, but the Pole played like a man with a point to prove. His nine saves kept out the likes of Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla as Arsenal lost their first game since the end of February, with Fabianski the undoubted star at the Emirates.
Danny Ings may be Burnley’s most-coveted asset following confirmation of their return to the Championship, but it’s difficult not to see a future in the Premier League for the Clarets right-back Kieran Trippier. Another accomplished performance in the win over Hull should see interest begin to build in the 24-year-old this summer.
He was a little more subdued going forward than usual at the weekend, but he still posed a threat going forward with trademark bursting runs down the right wing. He played a key part in a defence which secured a clean sheet too, of course. After the game, Trippier delivered an honest assessment of Burnley’s failures this season, but he most certainly is one of the success stories.
On a weekend where more attack-minded players dominated more often than not, Fernandez’s role in subduing a confident Arsenal frontline should not be underplayed. Swansea secured a battling – and deserved – victory over the Gunners to continue their fine season under Garry Monk, and the centre-back was solid at the back as well as cool in possession, with only Gylfi Sigurdsson more accurate in the passing stakes of the visitors.
The second Burnley defender to make our list, Shackell was integral in helping the visitors keep their 8th clean sheet of the season against Hull. It will count as scant consolation following their relegation, but it truly was a captain’s performance against the Tigers, with a mammoth 18 clearances and three blocked shots personifying his club’s grit and determination.
Patrick van Aanholt
Another topsy-turvy season has heralded few positives for Sunderland, but the progress of left-back van Aanholt is certainly one of them. Signed by Gus Poyet in the summer, the Dutch international is still learning and developing at 24, but the signs point to a long and fruitful future in the Premier League.
Against Everton, van Aanholt performed his defensive duties admirably, shutting down the in-form Aaron Lennon with a mix of pace and strength. Going forward he was arguably even more effective, typified by a pulsating run that left two defenders for dead, before realising he was a left-back and firing an effort high into the side-netting. Regardless, only two players on the whole pitch made more dribbles (2), while no-one made more tackles (5) in an all-round impressive showing.
One of the lynchpins of the great escape under Poyet last season, it always seemed likely that Cattermole would have a big say in Sunderland’s Premier League fate this campaign. The 27-year-old manned the midfield in typical consummate professional manner, out-performing rivals Gareth Barry and James McCarthy and helping instigate Sunderland counter-attacks from deep. Are you watching, Mr Hodgson?
The only Stoke player to start every one of their Premier League games this season, N’Zonzi has come into his own under the tutelage of Mark Hughes. Against a lacklustre Spurs side, the Frenchman ran the show in the centre as Stoke eased to a comfortable victory. His well-taken goal merely provided the icing on the cake for the midfielder, who could come in for attention from some of the league’s top clubs this summer.
“First and foremost you have to be playing at a club where you fit in. Where you’re playing in the position where you want to play and where you like the manager, the lads, this club ticks those boxes.”
After scoring in his third consecutive game, it would be quite the surprise if Aston Villa don’t try and make Tom Cleverley’s loan from Manchester United permanent this summer. The above quote shows a man finally comfortable again in his footballing surroundings after falling out of favour at Old Trafford.
His strike to sink West Ham almost certainly confirmed Villa’s safety in the Premier League this season, and it’s a turnaround in which the midfielder has played a huge part. Wolfsburg are reportedly among those interested in signing him, with his contract expiring at the end of June. That there is likely to be a summer chase for his signature speaks volumes about his improvement.
A second straight Team of the Week nomination for Silva, who may only found himself on the scoresheet once against QPR, but he was City’s second most-potent attacking threat.
Five shots, five key passes, three dribbles, two tackles and the highest amount of passes (69) and pass accuracy (87%) of anyone on the pitch. Sergio Aguero will rightly bag the plaudits once more, but the Spaniard remains the man pulling the strings.
Leicester’s incredible escape from Premier League relegation is almost complete, and although it has undoubtedly been a team effort, Algerian Mahrez was their star man in the weekend win over Southampton.
Doubling his seasonal tally in one afternoon, winger Mahrez also had the most touches (53) of any Foxes player, as well as having more shots (5) and the joint-most dribbles (4) than anyone else on the pitch.
“My job is just to keep working as hard as I can, and keep scoring goals. I expect to do the same again next season but what I really want is for City to win titles,” says Aguero, who attributes a change in his diet to his escape from injury. It’s safe to say there is no-one better at his job in the Premier League right now.
His impressive treble against QPR takes the Argentinian to 31 goals in 40 games for the season, with 25 of those coming in the Premier League as he leads second-best marksman Harry Kane by five goals. City’s season has been troubled, but if Aguero can stay fit in the future, they’ll always have a chance of silverware.